The wall of wood offers many opportunities if it is knocked down properly.

Napier Port says it has just exported 2 million tonnes of logs in the 12 months to May this year. And there is more to come.

There will also be increased logging truck traffic on our roads, which will need extra maintenance and road safety attention.

Other New Zealand regions have seen increased numbers of accidents involving log trucks.


Not all are the truck drivers' fault, but it puts the spotlight on truck drivers' experience and the increased demand for their services that comes with pine forests reaching maturity.

In some cases, trees don't reach full maturity - they are harvested early to meet offshore demand. China has long been a consumer of raw logs, but there is a strong argument for keeping logs in Hawke's Bay and processing them here. The wall of wood can't talk but it will ask questions of the region's wood processing capabilities and ability to create employment opportunities.

The Napier-Wairoa rail line is also back in business thanks to $5 million from the Provincial Growth Fund for KiwiRail to reopen the mothballed line for logging trains.

Regional Development Minister Shane Jones reckons it will take about 6000 trucks off the road each year. He is an eloquent raconteur with a clever turn of phrase. We will hold him to that figure of 6000 trucks.

In the meantime, logs aren't the only challenge for Napier Port. It is the Hawke's Bay Regional Council's biggest money earner, and it needs to grow. With that comes analysis of its ownership. Listing on the NZX stock exchange (with the council as a majority owner), a partnership with a minor partner, or a lease with the port retaining ownership of assets are options.

HBRC ratepayers will be asked to contribute to that debate and decision.

The answer is easy - choose the option which will provide growth and profit.

Understanding which option will do that is the challenging part, hopefully the debate doesn't become as gnarly as the knot in a rejected pine log.